China moviegoers show Hollywood the money

19 January 2013 / 3 years 9 months ago

Source: AsiaOneTen new movie screens open each day in China as the popularity of cinema soars in the country, but the appeal of Chinese films has failed to maintain the pace.Box office receipts jumped 30 per cent last year to 17 billion yuan (S$3.3 billion), lifting China up to become the world's number two cinema market behind the United States, figures last week showed.Yet foreign titles took the bulk of the money, scooping up just over half the revenue in 2012 despite facing an annual cap of only 34 releases - while Chinese filmmakers produced 893 films last year."The successful movies are nearly all Hollywood blockbusters," said Pen Kang, a researcher for the Hong Kong Baptist University Academy of Film."Chinese domestic films have no advantages compared to these Hollywood films. The production standards and technology are less advanced."China only increased its foreign movie quota from 20 in 2012 after long pressure from Hollywood and the World Trade Organisation. As a result foreign films edged out domestic ones in ticket sales for the first time in a decade, taking 51.5 per cent of the total.Naxin Ping, who manages an antique shop in Beijing, said she went to the cinema several times last year, watching both foreign and domestic titles including "The Amazing Spider-Man", "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol", martial arts film "The Grandmaster" by Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai and "Renzaijiongtu", a Chinese comedy. "That's my taste," she said.She is typical of China's growing middle-class population willing and able to pay the relatively high price of movie tickets - around $13 - that has made Chinese theatres such an attractive market.The country's leading property group Wanda became the world's biggest cinema owner last year after acquiring US company AMC for $2.6 billion.But State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) vice minister Tian Jin in November urged domestic filmmakers to "enhance creativity", saying their movies faced tremendous pressure and needed to be more competitive.

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